Erdoğan-Bahçeli alliance and CHP’s preparations
The local elections are eight months away, but the preparations have been building up fast already.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has enthusiastically responded to Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli’s call for the continuation of the “People’s Alliance,” which they had forged for the June 24 elections, in the upcoming local elections.
Bahçeli is a leader who can shift the direction of politics with his moves. This makes one remember the Nov. 3, 2002, elections, of which he had changed the direction with his intervention. We should also remember that Turkey decided to shift to a presidential system and to hold the June 24 early elections following his calls.
Whether the alliance would continue in the local elections had remained as a mystery until the MHP leader’s announcement on Aug. 31.
“During Turkey’s struggle for survival, the MHP will continue to hold its compromising and foresighted attitude. We do not wish to see the achievements earned in June 24 perish on March 31,” said Bahçeli. This way, he has opened the door for the continuation of the alliance in the local elections.
Erdoğan, who is determined to continue the alliance with the MHP in the 2023 elections too, did not refuse Bahçeli’s offer.
“I honestly do not know Mr. Bahçeli’s approach in this manner. We may be thinking positively on this issue. We took a step during the parliamentary elections. In this case, we might take a mutual step for the local elections too. It is better if we, as leaders, sit down and talk first. If the respective parties have a positive response, why not? It is possible,” Erdoğan said.
Green light for AKP-MHP alliance
Following the positive reply of Erdoğan, a new situation has emerged. In the upcoming process, members of both parties chosen by the two leaders will come together to discuss the conditions of the alliance. The most important factor was the mutual intentions of the leaders. Since Erdogan and Bahceli both are thinking positively about the alliance, what remains now is to decide on how the alliance will be. The details will be shaped in the meetings of the parties’ delegations. At the MHP’s Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting on Sept. 6, Bahçeli’s proposal should be expected to solidify.
The AKP finds the MHP’s support especially in Istanbul and Ankara quite important. These elections will witness the battle for Istanbul. In order to win the Istanbul elections, the AKP wants the MHP’s support as well as the votes of conservative Kurdish people. On the other hand, the MHP needs the AKP’s support in order to secure the municipalities it already governs. I do not think Bahçeli wants the AKP alliance in the local elections in order to win these cities. There is no doubt that he decided to hold the alliance because he knew the importance of the political stability in our current struggle against the economic attacks targeting us.
Election preparations of CHP
It is not clear until when the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) plans to remain silent about the election alliance between the AKP and MHP. In the MYK meeting of the CHP, the preparations for the local elections were expected to be atop the agenda.
Even though CHP spokesperson Faik Öztrak said, “We definitely do not have an alliance on our agenda,” Seyit Torun, CHP deputy leader responsible for local elections, prepared a study, including the election scenarios with or without an alliance.
I spoke with Torun. He said, “Alliance in the local elections may only happen in the base of the political party, not between the leaders.” But, he extensively studied “what would happen if the AKP and MHP form an alliance and we enter the elections on our own? What would happen with the support of İYİ [Good] Party? What would happen without an alliance?” He also prepared an extensive presentation showing the places where the CHP won with a high percentage, the places it lost with a high percentage, and places it narrowly won or lost.
The CHP is planning to announce the candidates mid-October or early in November. It will determine the candidates according to pre-selections, surveys and an assessment conducted by the party headquarters.
I can tell you that the CHP is preparing a special work especially for Istanbul.